Before & After: A Damaged Set of Drawers Gets a New Life in Faux Bois



For many a design enthusiast and bargain hunter, one of life’s greatest pleasures is finding treasure in unexpected places—on the curb, in the trash heap, in a dumpster. As the age-old proverb  goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and for some, the thrill is in seeing the treasure (and potential) in the broken, seemingly unsalvageable and forsaken. One such treasure-hunter is Finn Stewart, a Melbourne-based designer who is no stranger to the good ol’ dumpster dive. “I am always on the lookout for new furniture and projects to ease the strain on my bank account and relieve some boredom while searching for my next career opportunity,” he says. One such recent project was a dilapidated set of drawers found on the street. With chipping veneer and some highly questionable prior attempts at “sprucing” it up, the piece was in a sad state. With a little bit of work and some woodgrain tools, though, Finn was able to transform this once overlooked cast-off into a bold focal point. Check out all of the photos plus Finn’s design notes and story after the jump! — Max


“While on a walk back from a local café with my housemates I spotted a small set of drawers on the side of the road and decided to see if they had any worth,” Finn writes. “The drawers were pretty shabby to begin with, though a previous owner had tried to do a little something with them already. The construction and materials were average at best, but I thought that they could be useful, and better yet, their renovation could prove to be diverting.”

“After a couple weeks of thinking I decided that because the drawers were free, plain, and fairly low quality I’d try something that I’ve always been quite intrigued by: Wood-graining. If it didn’t work that’d be fine, I was more interested in the process, tools and technique. The faux bois finish, if successful, would just be a happy result.”

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“I sanded the drawers, working down from 60 grit to 120, before priming with a couple coats of oil based primer-sealer, sanding lightly between coats. I mixed a dark grey using white-base acrylic enamel and a small bottle of black liquid pigment I got from the paint store and applied 3 coats, sanding very gently between coats with 240 grit.
Using low tack painters tape, I marked out the uneven numbered ‘planks’, using a small roller to paint them with high gloss white acrylic enamel before quickly switching to the wood-graining tools to add the final finish. After they were dry I repositioned the tape for the even numbered planks and repeated the process.”

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Above image: “The orange chair is another street find. I found a cutting of the succulent plant on the road and took it home hoping it would grow, it did. The small set of drawers is of a set of two that I bought at an antique store sale. The Iittala candlestick is one of a pair I bought at a second hand store. The cushion cover is one that I made as a prop for my postgraduate exhibition. I bought the tin tray in Auckland (NZ) from a charity shop. The two ceramic tumblers are from a local artist, Connie Lichti.”

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IN. LOVE. Bold faux bois is so fun, this turned out great! Trash to treasure is always such a satisfying process.

fiona duke

initially i thought … oo not sure but then when you seen the chest of drawers in situ it looks absolutely fantastic.

good job !!! ! :)


What an awesome project, using a manageable low budget and returning life to an abandoned piece of furniture. I love the stories told along the way and the in-depth descriptions of the process. Beautiful shots of the end result!


This looks fantastic!! And it’s so refreshing to come to a design site where the community is so supportive. I stopped reading Apartment Therapy because the comments were so negative.


I would like to try this can u please explain how u got this pattern and color ?


me too! can u please explain how u got this pattern and color ?